Annexation occurs when an unincorporated property is incorporated into a municipality (a city or town). Municipalities seek annexations of unincorporated properties in order to eliminate enclaves and unincorporated “pockets,” “clean up” irregular borders, and increase efficiency for delivering public services. The municipality gets to expand its borders, and the property owners of the newly-annexed property gain access to urban services such as water and increased emergency service response times. In order for a property to be considered for annexation, it must be contiguous to the municipality in question.
The two most common methods of annexation are voluntary annexation and an annexation referendum. As the name suggests, voluntary annexation begins when all the owners of an unincorporated property submit petition to a city. The city then holds a public hearing and, if passed, an annexation ordinance is adopted incorporating the property.
A second method is through an annexation referendum. By this method, a city will initiate proceedings to annex a property, and hold a vote. Only registered voters who own property within the limits of the property may take part in the vote. If the vote passes by a simple majority, the property is incorporated by the city. It is important to note that property owners who are not registered to vote will be unable to take place in the vote.
Concerns by property owners over zoning, increased property taxes and costs incurred when connecting to a city’s sewage system may give property owners in currently unincorporated areas pause. It is important to speak with local city government to find out how such issues are handled, as it varies by area. Contact our zoning and land use attorneys today for help traversing the complexities of annexation.